Tuesday, May 29, 2018

American Idol Grand Finale

Six days later, let's wrap up this abbreviated season. At least it will be back next year on ABC, unlike Roseanne.


Who should have won American Idol: Maddie Poppe
Who I predicted would win American Idol: Gabby Barrett
Who won American Idol: Maddie Poppe


There you have it. As I said in my last write up, I thought Maddie outsang Gabby on points, but Gabby had the more ambitious performances. So, it was not like I had a real rooting interest, but still this is a surprising result for a few reasons, although I also said the dynamics of a three-way vote meant anything was possible.

There was a third place finisher, and it was Gabby. I think Caleb Lee Hutchinson, who finished in second place, must have really dominated the "Red States" and the country music vote to the detriment of Gabby, and the non-country vote was enough to go through the split and "elect" Maddie. If her last name was pronounced "pope" instead of "poppy", some white smoke might have been in order.

What else did we learn?

For one thing, Caleb is really good at impressions. We know he was pretty good at doing Luke Bryan, but his Lionel Richie impersonation was stellar! That was his most impressive moment of the season.

Also, he is dating Maddie Poppe. Who saw that coming? We knew all about Gabby and Cade Foehenr, but Caddie or Maleb or whatever the kids might be calling them slipped right in under the radar. For weeks, I thought Caleb would wind up in the top three as the "third wheel" to Gabby and Cade, but lo and behold, Gabby was the one who wound up as the third wheel. For the conservative pro-family viewing audience, it's a good thing that Caleb said that he and Maddie would invite their parents to accompany them to Hawai'i. I guess no cars for the Final Two this year. How coincidental for them to be the last two standing, after surprising everyone with their relationship. Was there a "special duet" scheduled for the other two possibilities?

By the way, while I wish them the best, I do not exactly see Caleb and Maddie lasting all that long. If they are lucky, they will surpass Season One's Justin and Kelly though. I don't know, she just didn't seem that into him after he  made the announcement of their involvement. and she is going to be the "bigger star" of course. If Caleb gets his heart broken, maybe he can write some songs about it. Did Kermit the Frog know about them?

What else can I say about the season and the Finale? Maddie peaked at the right time, with her strongest performances towards the end of the short season. Early on, I did not expect her to last long in the competition at all, although it seems like she did indeed have fan buzz early on. In her earliest interviews, she went out of her way to talk about how little confidence she had. Was that all an act? That is similar to how I viewed Nick Fradiani's run on the show a few years back. Some other winners, are easier to detect towards the start.

So, technically speaking, a White Guy With a Guitar, from the South nonetheless, lost to a female not from the South. That is somewhat remarkable in recent years. Of course the female that did win, also is white and also plays the guitar, and maybe the competent Caleb was not exactly an amazing singer. If this were a traditional Final Two situation with a majority win needed between Caleb and Maddie, she might not have won and Caleb would be the one who gets to quietly dump her shortly after the Idols Live tour wraps up.

Maddie has a lot of talent and potential, but I still think the best voices of the season were not among the Final Two, in the Finale, or perhaps even in the Finals at all.

See you in Season Seventeen/Season Two!





Sunday, May 20, 2018

American Idol Final Performances

While I have enjoyed some weeks of this season's American Idol, I was not really that into tonight's first part of the Finale. Mainly because the song choices did not really do much for me and I wish some other contestants were still around.

To be certain, I am glad American Idol returned to the airwaves after what turned out to be a year's sabbatical, but I hope next season, ABC can find a way to lengthen the season and "Make American Idol Great Again."

For the first time, three contestants are competing for America's final vote. That might make a prediction all that more difficult. After all, there are no runoffs in this competition. Also, the Finale is taking place in the Hollywood studio. No trip to a large theater for this event.

Once again, for the final time this season, I watched the episode live with my parents, as I envisioned other families doing the same. Those families might also have some heated arguments over Yanni vs. Laurel. My mother and I certainly hear different things. Anyways, she still likes Cade, my father likes Gabby, and I was just hoping to be able to judge all three rounds fairly.

First, the contestants would sing what would be their "Winner's Single", which were all cover tunes of previously songs I had never heard of before. Then, they would reprise a favorite performance from the season, and finally pick a song and dedicate it to their hometown, after having taken part in the traditional "Idol Homecoming" ceremonies this past week. The judges nor producers were not entrusted with the task of picking songs. It is clear that Idol would prefer that Caleb not win, but I am kind of torn now if they would rather have Gabby or Maddie take it all.

Round 1:

1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Johnny Cash Heart"

What can I say? I found this boring. Caleb messed up his entrance and looked nervous and tentative throughout. The judges were pretty harsh on him, (except for Lionel Richie who when he goes first basically manages to say nothing of substance.)

2. Gabby Barrett- "Rivers Deep"

What can I say? I found this boring, just a little less so than Caleb's performance. This is going to be Gabby's first single to the radio but it did not sound like a country song, which is what she wants to do, nor a pop song actually. It just sounded like a dated weird song and while she gave it her best, she did not seem too into it either during her performance. The judges gave her some sorta negative remarks and she looked upset at that.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Going Going Gone"

What can I say? I found this boring, but maybe a little less so than the other two. I do not think this song was about home runs in baseball, but it reminded me of the similarly titled Phillip Phillips song, just more boring. Nonetheless, Maddie, whom would play acoustic guitar on all three songs tonight (as I think Caleb did as well), seemed somewhat comfortable, even though she claimed she was not.

I could name about either semi-finalists from this season whom I would have rather seen here, but anyways, my first round rankings were:

3. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
2. Gabby Barrett
1.  Maddie Poppe

I wonder how many music fans were watching the Billboard Music Awards instead. As I write this, Salt N Pepa are doing some sort of reunion thing and the original Idol Kelly Clarkson is  saying goodnight.


Round 2:

1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson-  "Don't Close Your Eyes"

What can I say? This was also boring, but he sang it a bit better than in the first round. I managed to not close my eyes. To his credit, this was something from Hollywood, and not one he had done on the same stage. I wish this was the same named 80s rock song by Kix instead. Caleb has a nice voice for people who like these kind of tunes, but I think he overachieved to get to this point thus far.

2. Gabby Barrett- "Little Red Wagon"

It makes total sense for her to reprise this song. The show definitely needed a boost of energy. She ran around the stage and did considerably less choreography than the first time she did it. While that might have made it not as entertaining, her vocals stayed a bit more on point than they did the first time.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Don't Ever Let Your Children Grow Up"

Like Caleb, she picked to re-do a song she did in Hollywood. This was an original song she wrote. Vocally, I thought she sounded alright, even as the song was far from exciting. I was trying to focus on the lyrics and could not help coming away with a bit of an impression that she was reaching a pessimistic conclusion about today's generation of youth and what is to come. Might people relate to that or have a problem with the tone, especially in the aftermath of some more tragic news this week involving a school shooting in Texas (right after a thwarted one at Ronald Reagan's alma mater in Dixon, Illinois, as a heroic armed police officer did his job, stopped a threat, and saved numerous lives.)

Rankings:

3. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
2. Maddie Poppe
1. Gabby Barrett

Final Round-

1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Folsom Prison Blues"

I do not necessarily understand the connection between this song and his home in Georgia, but at least it was something sort of upbeat that even non-country fans like and might be able to groove to. This was Caleb's best performance tonight, but still not Finale worthy. There is of course also the infamous line of a mama warning her son not to play with guns before he shoots a man in Reno just to watch him die. This week, a lot of people are going to be hypersensitive to that.

2.  Gabby Barrett- "Don't Stop Believin'" 

I took note that even though Gabby is the youngest remaining contestants and I believe technically still High School age, that her hometown visit did not include a trip to any school she attended. Maybe she has been doing the homeschool thing for a while as she tried to make it as a singer, but something felt unsaid as far as that goes. Her hometown crowd in Pittsburgh seemed a bit on the smallish side.

Anyways, taking on Journey is always ambitious and this could have been a "moment" for her, if she pulled it off, especially with the surprise appearance of former Journey lead singer Steve Perry. Finally a song tonight I like!  I give Gabby (who might have forgotten to touch up her roots this week), major props for attempting to do a power ballad rock version of this iconic song, but it fell a bit short. At parts, she sounded good, and at others, it sounded like her voice was majorly stressed.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Landslide"


First of all, it looked like a heck of a lot of people turned out to see her home in Iowa. That would have been a major turnout for an Iowa Caucus and the song she picked is what Iowa Presidential hopefuls wish for but have not achieved over the past couple of cycles.

This Fleetwood Mac song (later done by the Dixie Chicks) is a pretty ballad and Maddie managed to get all the notes about right and sounded good. This is all indicating a pretty tight battle between Gabby and Maddie.

Round 3 Rankings are the same as Round 1 and thus are also the Final Cumulative Rankings:

3. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Maddie Poppe


What it comes down to for me is that Maddie managed to stay in a bit better voice for the evening, but in all three rounds, especially the final one, Gabby's degree of difficulty and entertainment factor were much higher than Maddie and perhaps she deserves the win based on that. I am strictly judging this on the vocals though. In a way, I am kind of hoping that Gabby wins, because she has been the strongest of the three throughout the season, but technically, Maddie (like last week) was the best vocalist.

Will we even know who will come in third and who will be left as the last two? I think Caleb clearly deserves the bronze.

What will happen tomorrow night (and I may not be able to see the entire Monday episode that evening, and thus will likely be spoiled as to the result first)?

I can legitmately make a case for all three winning

Caleb is from the South and sings country music and oh.... he is the only dude, and one that lost 85 pounds at that.

Gabby has been getting a lot of buzz all year and seen as a frotunrnner and her fans may be extra motivated after Judge Katy Perry literally pretended to vote for Maddie from her seat at the panel

Maddie is not seen as a country singer and appeals more to the "blue states" and thus could benefit from a split vote between two country singers who appeal to the "red states." She also peaked late.

If this were a one on one matchup between any of the two, I might be more confident that Caleb would beat Maddie and Gabby would beat Caleb (maybe) and Gabby would beat Maddie.

In this Blonde Ambition Threeway sing-off, who really knows? If forced to "predict" I will go with Gabby, but everything I thought would happen this season with the eventual final results went out the window when Cade was tossed overboard.

For those who might want to read my final write-up on the Season Grand Finale, it might be a couple weeks or so before I get around to writing it.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

American Idol Semifinals

Happy Mothers' Day!

Today was a great opportunity to spend time with family, and as I have been doing the past few weeks, watch the Sunday night American Idol performances with them. The results though tonight basically ruined my mother's day and it's a good thing she does not have a Twitter account to vent about these results....

Going into the evening, as I said last week, I expected ABC to put three people into the Finale and for them to be Gabby, Cade, and Caleb. This is just all about fanbases and what the contestants might have done the week previous and there would just not be enough African-Americans of young hipster types voting, right?

Let's look at what happened on this night when officially, the contestants sang twice. First they were mentored by former Idol champ Carrie Underwood (who somehow manages to look younger than all the kids despite being in her mid 30s) on her songbook and then they sang songs dedicated to their mothers after ABC put on the reality show drama with scenes of tearful letter writing reveals. It is a good thing that all these contestants have mothers and have good relationships with them.

The night began though with a group number, in which Ms. Underwood joined in the middle to her song, "See You Again", but since all five technically had solos (some less lengthy than others), I felt obligated to "judge" it and include it as a round when tabulating my rankings. I wish Idol would not have done this, but since the show only airs once a week, there was really no choice.

Basically, everyone sounded ok, but not too great joining in and around Carrie's vocals. Cade and Caleb basically had a second or two of "solo" time.

5. Cade Foehner (I think I have been mistakenly spelling his name with a Ph for weeks. I blame the band Phish.)
4. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
3. Michael J. Woodard
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Maddie Poppe

On to Carrie Underwood songs:

1. Michael J. Woodard- "Flat On the Floor"

It's a good thing Carrie did this song before her recent unfortunate slip and fall accident in which she warned the public of changes in her appearance. She must have an amazing makeup team.

How in the world was Michael going to pull off this corny country song? As usual though, he found a way to sort of make it work. He is a gifted entertainer and has a strong voice. Nonetheless, this was not as good of a vocal as most of his other performances and might have been stretching things a bit much.

2. Gabby Barrett- "Last Name"

Is this an age appropriate song for 18 year old Gabby? And does she know if his last name is spelled Phoener or Foehner? As usual her stage performing skills were top notch. The vocal was decent but it seemed a bit rushed and garbled because she was moving around so much. The judges absolutely loved it though, as did my parents. They were predicting a win for her. I told them that it is nearly impossible for a female to win Idol these days (Carrie Underwood's victory over Bo Bice was pre-texting) and that Cade was going to be very hard to stop.

3. Cade Foehner- "Undo It"

Carrie Underwood showed on Idol and since that despite primarily being a country singer, she loves rock music and is more than capable of singing rock songs. This song has always seemed like more of a rock number than country, and thus was a good choice for Cade.  He is extremely confident as a guitar player and a singer and it felt more technically proficient than the others thus far.

4. Caleb Lee Hutcinson- "So Small"

At this point, I went to grab a quick bite to eat while the show was on the tv in another room, so I sort of heard this performance more than I saw every second of it. Nonetheless, I thought Caleb sounded really good on it. Easily though, it was the least vocally challenging Carrie Underwood song done thus far which may be why he managed to stay completely on track vocally.

5. Maddie Poppe- "I Told You So"

This song is actually kind of boring, but I thought for two-thirds of it, Maddie sounded as good as she has all season. It was a very impressive vocal. Then, towards the end, it felt like she maybe lost concentration a bit and went sort of off. Like the ballad that Caleb did though, it's a lot easier to not go off tune when standing still and singing.

Rankings for what was really not all that tremendous of a round and in which everyone was sort of grouped close together.

5. Michael J. Woodard
4. Gabby Barrett
3. Cade Foehner
2. Maddie Poppe
1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Finally, it was time to bring out the mamas and the waterworks. We also saw parents (or a sister) of Seacrest and the judges. In this round, everyone was also grouped pretty close together, but it was a much stronger round in total. Everyone did better here than the previous round, except for maybe one person.

1. Gabby Barrett- "I Have Nothing"

Well, taking on Whitney is bold, but Gabby has shown the confidence and ability to take on these songs that will have the older Idol watching public taking notice. This was not the best cover of this song I have ever heard but Gabby can sing these kinds of diva ballads perhaps better than she does country pop and it was very strong overall.

Looking back on her audition, I thought they presented Gabby as being raised by a doting single father. In the live shows, the mother has been present throughout though, so there seems to be more to that story.

2. Cade Foehner- "Simple Man"

Wow, he really cried with his mother in the introductory piece. How can he lose? And how could he not do this Lynyrd Skynyrd song of course, when you think about it? It was perfect for the occasion.

 Playing acoustic guitar for just the second time (I suppose he is not comfortable singing without a guitar at all), this was a strong and connected vocal, even if his voice is not the greatest in the world. For this particular kind of song, he seemed to suit it just fine.

3. Michael J. Woodard- "Still I Rise"

I was thinking that all these songs are obstensibly about their mothers, and were not going to be love songs per se, he might have tried Jackie Wilson's "Your Love Is Lifting Me Higher". but instead he went the gospel route on a song I did not know and probably did all he could do with it. This was a much stronger vocal than the first round and one has no choice but to appreciate his vocal skill.

4. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Stars in Alabama"

The song title aside, it was perhaps not the case for those who had to vote in the U.S. Senate special election there, but I digress...

Caleb sang it nicely and with feeling, but it was a bit on the boring side for me.

5. Maddie Poppe- "God Only Knows"

When Seacrest said she was doing a Beach Boys' song, this was the obvious choice. I liked what she did with it and I thought this was definitely the best night Maddie had thus far. She could leave the competition on a high note. At the very end, perhaps thinking of her mother, or perhaps thinking of leaving the competition (or perhaps just being a bit dramatic) she choked up and missed the last note or whatever. That sort of thing worked for Jordin Sparks in the past.

Rankings:

5. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
4. Michael J. Woodard
3. Maddie Poppe
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Cade Foehner

Averaging the "three" rounds together, and breaking ties by easily giving the least amount of emphasis to the group number, my cumulative results for the night were:

5. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
4. Michael J. Woodard
3. Cade Foehner
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Maddie Poppe

Who would have imagined that I would put Maddie at the top? It was partially a fluke, based on her somewhat decent harmonizing with Carrie Underwood at the beginning of the night. This is what I came up with though and I had to stick by it. Still, I could not imagine that anything might happen to mess up my prediction.

Who should have been eliminated: Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Michael J. Woodard
Who I predicted would be eliminated: Michael J. Woodard, Maddie Poppe
Who was eliminated: Michael J. Woodard, Cade Foehner

Definite shocker! I thought Cade was destined to win the whole thing and despite the high ranking I gave Maddie tonight, it was hard to believe she actually had enough votes to make it to the Finals.

My parents, especially my mother, after being happy for Gabby making the finals, were downright apoplectic about Cade being cut. They vowed to be done with this show forever. Allegations of Russian meddling were tossed about just some very angry words all around. (It's a good thing I have never tried to watch "Dancing With the Stars" with my mother, because this is probably not an unusual reaction.)

Looking at the trending topic on Twitter, it appears that people (mainly Democrats) were not as pissed that Maddie made it over Cade, as my mother was, but that Caleb made it over Michael.

So, not only are the final three all white. They are all blonde (whether natural or not) and I believe might all possibly have blue eyes. This is like some sort of sick Aryan triumph. Of course it had to happen on the night that Carrie Underwood was the star attraction.

First America forced us to have to pick between two horrific blonde Presidential nominees in 2016 (which prompted me to write in a bald dude), we now have triple blondes in next week's Finale.

I wish I could most accurately analyze what exactly happened to cause Cade to lose in this round, but I am not quite sure I get it. Were his fans overconfident? Did they split their votes between he and his rumored girlfriend? Were the audience taken aback by the 21 year old long haired, open shirted Cade (who apparently is a divinity student at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University) having a fling with an "18 year old High School student?" Maybe people just did not really "get" his performances from last Sunday and thought they had to be offended by whatever it is they thought "Jungle Love" was about.

In any event, two very strong performers in Michael and Cade are out, and the three that are left, are perhaps the most "marketable" and "current."

At least two of these people would not be my ideal Top Three though, although once again, I think Maddie came on strong tonight.

Obviously, American Idol really wants Gabby Barrett to win this whole thing, and "if trends hold", she probably will deserve it after next Sunday, but after the Cade surprise, I am less certain than ever as to what might happen. I believe people will have all Sunday night to vote, before the results are announced on the Monday finale special. That is both more traditional and more fair but as they have done before, will someone be cut first early next Sunday night?

Possibly Maddie might be able to benefit from a split country vote (though some might even slightly associate her with country too.) and be a surprise winner. It is worth nothing that three left, come from states Trump won in the South, Northeast, and Midwest,  but Maddie of Iowa is probably the most "blue state" in her appeal, over Pennsylvania "country girl" Gabby and certainly over wise-crackin' good ol' boy in training Caleb Lee of Georgia.

Speaking of Caleb, he is the last dude standing and the producer driven Lazaro Arbos tragedy of a season put aside, that might be enough for him to coast to the win next week. How cynical can we get? With Cade gone, it would be hard to bet a ton of money against Caleb not winning at the present.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

American Idol Top 5

It is another Sunday night and it was another episode of American Idol Season 16. We now know there will indeed be a Season 17, and I hope it lasts longer than this extra speedy version. Tonight, we learned that two contestants would be leaving after the in-show live vote and I certainly expected that Jurnee and Catie Turner would be most at risk.

For the second week in a row, I watched this live with my parents where I had to explain to them the pop culture references "looks like a snack" and "swole." Frankly, I am a bit surprised I even know what they mean. So, while this is not a live blog, it is a recap of the evening, which once again was pretty entertaining. I do not know if anyone on this season will go on to superstardom, but everyone is talented. However, there was one contestant out of the seven tonight that was off their game and easily deserved elimination. The other six were all ranked pretty closely together though.

Two rounds and two songs each, with the themes and the order switched up throughout. Producer manipulation galore perhaps, but the contestants would songs both songs by the Artist Most Frequently During His Lifetime Known as Prince (at least those written by him) as well as songs from the year they were born. As Idol told us in the beginning, Prince once sang about partying like it was "1999" but some of these contestants were Y2K babies. It is scary that I was first legally old enough to "party" in 1999. It was also a better year for the Republican Party.

Anyways, let's look back at Round 1.

1. Jurnee- "Kiss"

She ditched the dreadlocks was looking a slight bit more like former Prince co-star and live interest Vanity. Also present on the drums, for most of the Prince songs was Sheila E. My father tried to Google her but had her confused with Sheena Easton. That happened to me as a child as well, since Sheena had a duet with Prince.

Jurnee sounded perhaps just ok on this song. There was nothing bad about it but it just did not really suit her style as much and she seemed a bit tentative. I do not really think it is one of Prince's better songs either, although it went to Number One.

2. Gabby Barrett- "I Hope You Dance"

Ok, so much for all the Prince songs going in the same round. This is a song from the year Gabby was born, with Nick Jonas as mentor, and in some ways the song was just so predictable.

Nonetheless, this was a surefire vote getter for the ABC Sunday Night Red State Family Audience, so you really cannot blame Gabby. She also sang it extremely well. It is almost like she can do a song like this as well as the country pop ballads she has done in the past in her sleep. One would have to nitpick beyond belief to find anything wrong with the vocal, but as a viewer, I wish she would challenge herself more. She comes across though on stage as someone who is already a star, and just has a winner's aura to herself.

3. Michael J. Woodard- "I Would Die 4 U"

Let's all give thanks to Prince for inventing text speak.

With almost every Michael performance on Idol, he has me a bit confused and non impressed in the first few seconds and then he draws me in and by the end of the performance, I have to admit it was good and he is talented. This was no exception. As a contestant who grew up on only non-secular music, it was obvious how this was really not his style, but he really made the most of the uptempo performance and made it suit his voice, as usual.

4. Cade Phoener- "Who Will Save Your Soul"

Both Katy Perry and I have mothers of similar ages, and they are both really into Cade. That says all there is to know about who the frontrunner is this season, although the voting requirements might be a bit beyond anyone in my family.

I do not like this 90's folk ditty by Jewel, but I have to say I was impressed with the rock twist that Cade put on it. He actually made it sound more "90's" and he showed a lot of creativity, if he was indeed the one responsible for changing the arrangement.

5. Catie Turner- "Oops!...I Did It Again."

I thought this song was from 1999, not 2000.

Most Idol viewers, I think would concede that Catie has a really good voice, but her performances can be hit or miss. This one I thought missed. This version of the Britney Spears song had a pretty different arrangement, but felt and sounded a bit too Vegas kitschy.

6. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Amazed"

Wow, how predictable. This is very similar in that vein to Gabby's pick, but she succeed with going that route, and of course this was going to do nothing to harm Caleb with his fan base.

It seems like we have seen him do this song on Idol before but talking to my mother, we reached the conclusion that was done a few weeks ago on The Voice by a country singer named Kaleb Lee. Go figure. This was solid and competent for Caleb, even as it is not the style of country that he does best.

7. Maddie Poppe- "Nothing Compares 2 U"

I had not seen a list of song spoilers, but I would have bet money this would be the Prince penned song she would perform. I wonder if Sinead O'Connor is lashing out on social media.

Playing piano for what I was pretty sure was the first time for her in a live performance this season, Maddie I thought started off with a bit of an odd re-arrangement, but I soon I came to appreciate it more and the way her voice sounded on it. It seemed to be the most confident she has been yet.

First Round Rankings:

7. Catie Turner
6. Jurnee
5. Michael J. Woodard
4. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
3. Cade Phoener
2. Maddie Poppe
1. Gabby Barrett

Next, the contestants sang for a second time. All things considered, for at least six of these performances, this was perhaps the strongest round of Idol vocals in a long time, with as many as six still in the game.

1. Michael J. Woodard- "My Heart Will Go On"

It takes a "titanic" amount of chutzpah for a contestant to take on this Celine Dion 1997 iceberg ballad. especially a male singer. At the same time, before he even sang a word, you could tell this might work out very well for MJW.

Many will continue to find him corny, but in terms of vocal ability, he delivered big time. His unique tone was apparent in the opening verse and I sense people will just waiting to see what he would do with the chorus. While he may have not completely sold out all the way on belting, he managed to hit his share of glory notes and once again, I just could not help but be impressed.

2. Cade Phoener- "Jungle Love"

Again, serious props for an unlikely song choice. I knew this song was in the Purple Rain movie, but did not know that Prince actually wrote it. It is certainly a fun song and Cade had another very strong performance, even if there were several seconds focused on instrumentals and him playing his guitar (while Sheila E. banged away at the drums) instead of singing. The parts he did sing though were good. As he is linked in the media to Gabby, I had the thought that they could maybe be an act together, with her as the main singer and him as her guitarist and backup vocalist, who would occasionally sing some songs as well.  Another surprise tonight was that the Top 7 is going on tour. Are they actually expecting to sell tickets? I imagine they will be going to some pretty small venues, and there was something about past winner Kris Allen joining them.

3. Gabby Barrett- "How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore"

I had heard this song on Idol. I think it was done by Stephanie Edwards way back in Season 6, but I did not know Prince wrote or performed it.

This was not one of Gabby's "safe" song choices She really was good on this and unpredictable. It fit into more of her blues "roots" (putting aside her actual roots which are well-concealed on her head) and this was probably another home run, or at least an extra base hit for her. She is probably not among the very best singers Idol has ever had, but she may be the most "stage ready." I suppose you really do have to wonder why she was not already discovered.

4. Jurnee- "Back At One"

This surprised me in a pretty big way. I thought Jurnee was just ok in the first round, but this was an excellent vocal. I never liked the Brian McKnight song from 1999, but she really sold it. This kind of ballad is absolutely what she does best and it was nearly impossible to find anything wrong with it vocally. (My mother said she was sharp on the last note.) As good as this was for Jurnee, I think most, including herself, knew her fate was probably already sealed. The comments from the judges pretty much pointed in that direction.

5. Catie Turner- "Manic Monday"

My first thought upon hearing the choice was that she was a song she could probably do really well on, but alas, that was not to be. From the very beginning, she lost the lyrics, and paused for several seconds. I thought there was an audio problem at first. She recovered eventually, but was a bit shaky the rest of the way through. It did not work for her. The lyrics say, "I wish it was Sunday, because that's my fun day." Well, it was Sunday, but this was unfortunately lacking in the fun.

6. Maddie Poppe- "If It Makes You Happy"

Having played piano in the first round, she played electric guitar on this song. Easily, this was Maddie's best week and I liked what she did with the song. Her voice was good and she sounded confident, although her vibe may be a bit too laid back for a strict comparison to the kids who are managing to hit huge notes.

7. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "When Doves Cry"

I knew it would be this "Prince anthem." What in the world would he do with it to make it sound country? Assuming there is not some version already on YouTube of the song done in this style, Caleb did a great job in making this happen.

This really did work as a haunting, slow, country ballad. Caleb sounded as good as he has on anything this season. Is this on I-Tunes (probably not), but I think it would sell pretty well.

Round 2 rankings:

7. Catie Turner
(big gap)
6. Maddie Poppe
5. Cade Phoener
4. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
3. Gabby Barrett
2. Michael J. Woodard
1. Jurnee

With Idol headed to the final commercial break, it was time to average the scores from both rounds together. Seventh place was sure easy enough, and there was a degree of separation from the pack of the person I had in first, but the other five were all either tied or separated by one point, so I had to do a good deal of tie-breaking. In all honesty, six contestants did very well tonight.

Composite:

7. Catie Turner 
6. Maddie Poppe
5. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
4. Cade Phoener
3. Jurnee
2. Michael J. Woodard
1. Gabby Barrett

My mother felt that Michael J. was in trouble, but I thought it was pretty clear, as it was from hours earlier, that the fanbase game would cause the end of the journey for Jurnee and Cate.

Who should have been eliminated: Catie Turner and Maddie Poppe
Who I predicted would be eliminated; Catie Turner and Jurnee
Who was eliminated: Catie Turner and Jurnee

The one semi-dramatic moment was when it was down to the final spot and it looked like Catie was terrified (acting?) that she was actually not going to be eliminated. Michael J. was trying to reign her in while the announcement was made, but I wondered if she saw her name on Seacrest's card as safe or something and she was going to eliminate herself from the competition by quitting.

Are two or three leaving next week? I just feel pretty solidly that whether he deserves it or not, Caleb will be the third wheel joining Cade and Gabby. There just may not be enough African-Americans and young hipsters voting.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

American Idol Top 7

I knew this season of Idol would be over in just a few more weeks, but I did not realize that it would no longer be airing, even for a Results Show, on Monday night. Oh well, I will take what I can get after we were told the franchise was gone forever. That includes tonight's "Disney Night" which is a staple for all sorts of programming on the ABC television network, which just happens to be owned by Disney.

This was not really an episode I was looking forward to, because needless to say, I am not some kind of huge Disney fan and I figured it would be pretty boring. However, while the songs were not that great for me, all 10 of these contestants proved they had good voices, so that is a positive. In the spirit of such family friendly entertainment on a Sunday night, along with the contestants being "surprised" by visits from family and friends while at Disneyland,, I watched the episode live with my parents, who will never tire of talking of their trip to Disney World over a decade ago. At the same time as this episode airs, my brother, sister-in law, and four year old niece happen to be on a Disney cruise! My niece would probably have known just about all these songs and been able to sing along in tune (and she also is familiar with Katy Perry.)

There are some weird aspects though to this episode as it was airing live from coast to coast. That means for those of us in the Midwest, or on the East Coast, it aired at normal time, but the further west we go in the country, the earlier in the daytime on a Sunday this took place. The voting was only open during the time the show was on the air. For years, Idol voters had to wait until after the show was over and then had "at least two hours" to cast their votes. In the final couple years of the Fox run, when they wanted to push online voting, people had an entire week to vote I believe. Tonight, less than two hours, while the show aired, regardless of what time it was in the part of the country where you live. That seems patently unfair. Would it be most unfair to those who went first, whom a lot of people might have missed or forgotten about by the end, or those who went last, who literally had no time to make an impression?

This tells me that there was literally nothing the contestants could have done tonight to "save" or "harm" themselves, and that it was all just about fanbases, leading up to the first ever Idol Finals Triple Elimination. If someone was really good, that could help them gain fans for next week but that meant nothing for tonight. Thus, at dinner, I predicted that the three losers would all be wildcard contestants from last week and that Michelle, Ada, and Dennis would be the most likely to fall short, with Jurnee, also a wildcard contestant, being next most likely.

1. Maddie Poppe- "The Bear Neccessities"

Tonight, the contestants were mentored by Indina Menzel of "Frozen" fame. Each week, Maddie is shown being unsure of her performance and cautiously pessimistic about her chances. I was wondering if I remembered her name from a past season of "The Voice" and apparently she merely failed to make it past the blind auditions.

To me, she sounded just ok on this song, which I have bad memories of from the in store stereo system playing during the time I worked in an educational toy store as a High School senior. It's such a gimmicky song that there was nothing she could really do to make it suit her better, but it seems like she already has a lot of fans who like her laid back indy vibe. My father commented that she has a voice that sounds like Peggy Lee. Very few people would have any idea who that is.

The title of this song hopes that in the past weekend's NFL Draft, the Chicago NFL franchise that I support picked some good players to fit various needs.

2. Jurnee- "How Far I'll Go"

My aforementioned niece would have surely worn her "Moana" dress for this performance but Jurnee went a different route.

This song is a ballad that allows a singer to show off, so it in that way, it was quite different than what Maddie did and Jurnee did manage to sound pretty good. For a lot of this segment though, my father was insisting that Jurnee wife was a Marine, while I was pretty sure she was in the Army. He was trying to ask his phone the answer, as if Google knows who the hell Jurnee is as compared to Journey (whom I will be seeing live this summer) and then at the end, Seacrest happene to confirm I was correct.

3. Cade Phoener- "Kiss The Girl"

What was he going to do with this horribly bad song that in no way fits his style? I have to say, I was impressed. Cade totally changed the arrangement and played acoustic guitar for the first time. While it was maybe not an amazing performance, he definitely was able to show his versatility and perhaps this was the first performance that focused more on his solid vocals rather than his rocking out on his axe.

At the end, Idol all but confirmed his "showmance" with fellow front-runner Gabby Barrett. That sort of thing has never been a part of an Idol season before, at least publically. What will people think of a relationship between a 21 year old male farmer and an 18 year old female High School student? By the standards of Roy Moore voters, it would positively quaint. (He should have joked that his romance was with Ada.)

4. Ada Vox- "Circle of Life"

Before the performance, we saw Ada, dressed of course as Adam, being surprised at Disneyland by a male fiance. More than that, the fiancee happened to look a whole like like Adam. Rigtht then and theer, any hope for Ada peeling off the smallest portion of the Evangelical vote may have gone away. Planned Parenthood may have liked it though. They recently Tweeted that it was time for a transgender Disney Princess, one that had an abortion, etc, and this might have been the closest that they were going to get on a Disney owned entity.

As for the vocals, it was decent, but not as good as I would have expected. It sounded like Ada was struggling to be heard over the band. While the person in the dress and behind the makeup has a powerful voice, it is almost like Adam is playing more of a role now than just singing. This song from "The Lion King" has of course been done on Idol before, including one extremely memorable time by Jennifer Hudson. There was no way that Ada could have lived up to that, but I think Zoanette Johnson might have been better. If anyone remembers Zonaette, from that one year's Las Vegas semi-final round, she managed to make her hair look a whole lot more like a lion than Ada did and I have to say that Zoanette, who is presumably actually female, looked more like a winning drag queen than Ada did tonight.

5. Michelle Sussett- "Remember Me"

After last Monday, I was upset that she had advanced to the Finals over Mara Justine. This performance by Michelle though was somewhat better than I expected, although I had never heard the song before.

She is competent at doing ballads and the judges really like when she sings in Spanish.  Unless there are a ton of Hispanic viewers though, I still was sketpical she had a ton of fans who would be voting for her.

6. Gabby Barrett- "Colors Of The Wind"

Would Gabby be as memorable if she went with the natural colors of her hair?

There is something quite paradoxical about her whole run on Idol. She is a really, really good singer and a complete pro on stage. One wants to ask why she has not been discovered before, while at the same time, it is almost like she is too professional and lacks genuine emotion.

This was a really good performance of the type of pretty Disney ballad that young girls have sung on the Idol stage before. Gabby's unique Pittsburgh southern twang was apparent though and that made it a bit more interesting. The best I can think of describing her voice is that she is like Miley Cyrus, except a better singer.

7. Michael J. Woodard- "Beauty And The Beast"

I cringed at this song choice, and just about every week, I expect to not like what Michael J. does and yet I also have to give him credit. He tends to start off a little tenatitive in each performance and then finds a spot where he seems completely on top of whatever he is doing and his voice just sounds really good. I detected a bit of a Michael Jackson tone to his voice, which the judges also commented on and threw in Frank Ocean as well.

What is he going to do after this show? I cannot see him making it in modern day R&B and he seems like he has more to offer than just gospel music. I could see him singing songs for Disney, but with his wholesome personality, he should legtimataly get a tv show where he can sing as like the 21st Century version of Mister Rogers.

8. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "You've Got a Friend In Me"

To me, the best part of this performance was the dedication to his dog and the photos and videos of said dog playing with a then much chunkier Caleb.

It started off a bit shaky vocally and then got better. It was maybe just ok for me though and while competent, like the Maddie performance, was just not that memorable. My mother, who was agreeing with me on most of these performances, ranked it a bit higher than I did though.

9.  Catie Turner- "Once Upon a Dream"

I believe they said this was from "Sleeping Beauty" but I absoluetly did not remember this song from my childhood. Then again, that was a long time ago.

Unlike just about anyone else tonight, (besides the Snow White attired Katy Perry), Catie embraced the Disney theme by pretty much dressing as a Disney Princess and singing this straight. I perhaps wanted there to be more to critique about it negatively, but Catie really did sing it well. She can sing just about anything well when you are willing to overlook some of the other factors surrounding her over the top personality.

10. Dennis Lorenzo- "Can You Feel The Love Tonight"

In all past Idol seasons, the pimp slot is where a performer would want to find themself. This evening, it might have been the worst possible spot, if viewers were waiting to vote until after the contestant actually sang.

Idol tried to make this a moment by talking about how he saw this movie with his father not long before he was murdered and also brining out Dennis's very cute older daugther. How many viewers though might have some additonal questions though about his admission that he had not seen this daughter in a couple years.

Dennis sang terififically last week and he continued that trend this week. This was an extremely solid vocal, but would it be enough for him? My sense is that whatever segment of the African-American population is voting might lean more heavily towards Michael J. Woodard, whom exactly like Dennis left Philadelphia to move to Los Angeles to persue singing opportunities.

Rankings:

10. Maddie Poppe
 9. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
 8. Ada Vox

7. Michelle Sussett
6. Catie Turner
5. Jurnee
4. Cade Phoener
3. Michael J. Woodard
2. Gabby Barrett
1. Dennis Lorenzo

With the voting over and Idol headed to commerical break, there was nothing that happened to dissaude me of my prediction from well over the show first began.  I predicted that Michelle, Ada, and unfortunately Dennis would be cut. As my rankings show, I would have sent Maddie and Caleb home, as well as Ada, in this talented group, because of subpar song choices and unorginal interpretations from the first two and trying too hard by the latter.

Who should have been eliminated: Maddie Poppe, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Ada Vox
Who I predicted would be eliminaetd: Ada Vox, Michelle Sussett, Dennis Lorenzo
Who was eliminated: Ada Vox, Michelle Sussett, Dennis Lorenzo

Under this format, there is no way to formally go on record with predictions, but my parents would of course be able to confirm that I picked the right three that would be leaving from the very start.

 With our nation more divided on cultural issues than ever before, some will note that those who were cut tonight were a gay Hispanic drag queen, a Venezuelan female immigrant, and an African-American man with little girl braids in his hair. Now, five of the remaining seven contestants are white kids, along with one biracial lesbian, and one black dude that I compared to Mister Rogers. We have no way of knowing just how the vote totals went and who was 10th, 9th, or 8th.

The Red States may indeed be holding sway, and my early prediction next week, if three are to go again, that there will be a tough road ahead for Junee for certain, and then maybe Catie and Maddie.

Monday, April 23, 2018

American Idol Top 10

Now, at this somewhat late hour, let us begin with liveblogging a recording of tonight's "live" broadcast. I have a feeling that all 14 singers will be performing with some sort of mixture of results from last night along with new performances and that this will be confusing. I bet "The Voice" on NBC will have higher ratings in the head to head competition.

So, we have "Victory Zones" and "Danger Zones." This is sort of like post-war Baghdad.

1. Maddie Poppe- "Walk Like an Egyptian"

Her performance last night deserved a spot in the Top 10, and I thought that would happen and sure enough Maddie is safe. Somewhat jarringly for her though, she has to perform right away. There is no doubt she has picked some of the most unlikely songs ever to be performed on American Idol. A lot of people will like her for that and I thought at parts, this was a fun, solid performance. There were moments though when she looked uncertain and awkward and for some reason, it seemed like it lasted a lot longer than the typical 1:30 or so that these songs get.

2. Michelle Sussett- "I'm A Dreamer"

She did not deserve to advance based on last night's performance and did not, although I would have narrowly given her the final Wild Card slot. Tonight, I am going to treat these performances like an 8 way sing-off, and only judge based them. Of course, I will also have to weave them in with the safe performers as well, to determine who deserves to advance to next week. How many will be going through anyway?

Michelle introduced this as an original song and it might as well have been the theme song for the DACA program. How timely. Nonetheless, I have more sympathy for these Dreamers hoping to stay in America, than for Michelle trying to stay on American Idol. We know she came here from Venezuela on her own, without her mother, and I assume is on a perfectly legal visa.

There were bits of this bilingual performance that were emotional, but her voice is just not strong enough nor her enunciation good enough for it to have been that impressive. Trump supporters will hate it, but I can imagine her singing this song, just like this, at some liberal pro-immigration rally. Of course, I have to be fair and focus on the singing and it was lacking.

3. Marcio Donaldson- "Jealous"

I still want to call him Darcio Richardson for some reason. After bombing last night with Barry Manilow, Marco tried to save himself with a much newer Nick Jonas song. I suppose that makes sense. He looks really nervous and defeated though.

Marcio has some vocal tricks (and a back bend) in his arsenal and this might have been a better song to do last night with America voting, but there was absolutely no "swag" to this, which is what the song requires. He looked terrified in fact. I think he just may be one of the people that cannot handle the pressure of the "large stage" and it's uncomfortable for the viewers. I really wish him the best, but it might be best for him to say goodbye tonight.

As they head to commercial, they once again show all the remaining kids in the Lounge and they are purposely looking nervous and scared to death. It's a total act that they were directed to do and it is frankly degrading for all of them to be treated that way. Of course they are all nervous, but they would not be acting like this on camera unless they were told they had to. They did not used to do that in past seasons. It's all a bit too campy. (I am also noticing the new ABC Directors are messing up in a few subtle ways as to the shots and things getting in the way of the stage on camera, but that's for the tv production people to worry about.)

4. Cade Phoener- "Bright Lights"

No surprise at all that Cade is safe. I am pretty sure he easily got more votes in the first week of voting than anybody else. (I am not going to bother to vote -and I would have had to vote for Gabby- at this point because I do not feel like setting up an account with ABC to cast a vote. It was easier when you could do it through Google.)

Cade is completely comfortable on stage and definitely knows what kind of artist he is. He does the blues rock thing very well vocally, but still, his guitar playing seems to be the highlight of the performance. I just do not know if I see him as a huge solo act or a front-man of a rock band. Is he going to be able to show that he can sing a ballad with an acoustic guitar or perhaps no guitar at all? What he does, he does proficiently but it's all very much the same thing week after week.

5. Garrett Jacobs- "Have You Ever Seen the Rain"

Thus far, no surprises or miscarriages of justice in regards to the vote results or my predictions. Last night, Garrett did a Phillip Phillips original and tonight, he sang a song that P2 did on Idol.

I am sure that he is the best singer in his High School, but I just get the impression that there are a lot of other High Schools that have best singers that easily surpass Garrett. I really am not sure what he has done vocally to deserve to have gotten this far. I felt the same way a couple seasons back about Daniel Seavey who is now in some some boy band with a major record deal. Most of this performance was subpar, but to Garrett's credit, the last 15 seconds were fairly decent, and that might make the judges save him again.

6. Gabby Barrett- "Little Red Wagon"

As predicted of course, Gabby advanced on the momentum built by a strong performance last night. The song she did tonight is not one I had ever heard before and while I might have found it a dumb song, it has to be said that Gabby just performed the hell out of it.

She is just fearless on stage and I do not know if any other past female contender has ever "owned" a stage like she does with choreography and all that. She makes JAX look demure. Due to the fact that Maddie was just all over the stage, some of the vocals sounded a bit shrill but for those looking to be entertained, it probably did not matter. She is like a combination of Disney Channel meets CMT. Can Idol craft a winning coalition between country music fans and young girls (who typically will vote for a boy), who might find her appealing?

7. Dennis Lorenzo- "This Woman's Work"

I thought that he deserved to advance based on last night but did not think he would, so that came to pass.

Dennis seemed fairly unfazed by this news and then delivered what was might have been the strongest performance of anyone this season. While he really did not do anything with this song that Big Mike Lynche did not once do, it still was a very effective and impressive vocal showcase, with falsetto runs and a lot of conviction behind the lyrics he sang. I will be very surprised if he is not a Wild Card selection based on this. What was going on the screen behind him though with those graphics?

Next week, the show will air live, coast to coast. So, West Coast people better be out of traffic and tuned in at 5 pm and I suppose it will be 2 pm for Alaska and Hawai'i. Is this really a good idea?

8. Jonny Brenns- "Demons"

Well, this was at least a ton better than the vocal tragedy last night. I thought the first part of it was kind of shaky as he sang the verse very slow and with minimal music accompaniment. Then it kicked into a higher gear, and he could not quite stay on pitch, but it was still emotionally connected and indicative that he can actually sing, even if  the title "American Idol" is far from something he is ready for. The judges may very well advance him based on this, but if not, at least he can know it was a much better outcome than the show which aired on Sunday.

9. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Getting You Home"

I did not think he should have made the Top 10 based on what I thought was an average at best showing last night and am mildly surprised he did.

That being said, this was a strong performance here for Caleb tonight. It is not the kind of music I really like but this is easily the best he has sounded thus far and was far more fitting to his style where he can rely on his lower register. It is worth remembering that he is at least a few months older than Jonny, but his advancement probably means the show does not need another blond hair blue eyed dude, so bad news for Jonny. It also means that Gabby will not have the country demographic to herself. Caleb apparently has a fanbase that will turn out for him even when he is not at his best.

Those who advance to the Top 10 are not getting critiqued by the judges. Although, I do not remember if Maddie got comments from them when she was the first to make it. How will that effect how people vote for next week's results if some contestants are not getting judged at all?

10. Mara Justine- "Love On The Brain"

Based on last night, she did not deserve to advance automatically, although she was among the 10 best. I ventured a guess she would go through, but that did not happen. (The spot instead went to Caleb if that will be the only one I got wrong.)

Mara had to "sing for her life" tonight and while some people will find her vocal and demeanor overwrought, I thought she did a great job on this song. She has a big soulful voice and did what she probably had to do, including the hair flips. She just needs to hope this song works out better for her with the judges than it did for Kay Kay.

Ok, wait a minute, I am realizing something now after a long day. Is America going to be voting at all tonight or is this only about the judges picking the Wildcard contestants? Seacrest is not telling people how to vote. Now, I am feeling kind of dumb.  Are the six who are automatically going through basically just doing "celebration songs?" They did that one season for everyone who was voted into the Top 12. If so, I really should not have been blogging them or ranking them. My mindset must be where it was when Idol last aired, and they combined results night and performance night for everyone. Oh well, I have come this far already tonight, so I might as well just finish the task.

 11. Jurnee- "Never Enough"

Based on vocals alone last night, I did not think Jurnee was any higher than eight out 14, but I really did think she would advance because of the impressive way she covered all three artists on the high energy song she did.  That did not happen though. Either people are judging solely on the vocals like me, or perhaps Middle America may not exactly like her self-confidence or the fact the is far more openly gay than contestants were in past seasons (the same can be said for Ada/Adam, but she/he does not talk about it as much.) I think Michael and Ada will be the last two to make it via the vote. Thus far, it has only been white kids that America has advanced.

This started off really good for Jurnee. She is a great ballad singer but towards the end, it seemed like disappointment and emotion slightly got the better of her and there were some semi-bad notes as she concluded.

Did Katy Perry throw some subtle shade at Hillary Clinton in her remarks about how Jurnee is the most qualified woman to not get the job?

12. Michael J. Woodard- "Believe In Yourself"

He deserved to make it and he did. Tonight, he picked a song from "The Wiz." As has been the case before with MJW, I was prepared to dislike this, but he sort of sells it every time. I have no idea what kind of artist he is going to be when the show is over, but he makes for good television and can really sing. He is like a stylistically different version of Taylor Hicks. (Marcio continues to look forlorn in the "Danger Zone. I think he knows it's over for him.)

One automatic spot left and I am actively rooting for a Drag Queen. Welcome to 2018. I had Ada ranked sixth last night and Catie seventh. It was very close.

Catie gets the spot. Annoying trumps gender bending for the Idol public.

Let's make it official-

Who should have advanced: Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard, Dennis Lorenzo, Cade Phoener, Maddie Pope, Ada Vox

Four of out of Six.

Who I predicted would advance: Gabby Barrett, Michael J. Woodard, Cade Phoener, Maddie Pope, Jurnee, Mara Justine.

Four out of Six again

Who did advance: Gabby Barrett, Michael J, Woodard,  Cade Phoener, Maddie Pope, Catie Turner, Caleb Lee Hutchinson

13. Catie Turner- "Havana"

Whatever one thinks of her on camera antics, or her wardrobe choices, she can flat out sing. I do not really know what else to say. This was a strong performance and the only reason she is usually in the middle of the pack is because she has some steep competition this year.

14. Ada Vox- "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"

Somehow I knew Ada would have the pimp slot tonight, one way or another. This song choice? Of course. How could it be anything else? It would not have made sense though if "she" were safe at this point. So now Ada joins "Normund Gentle" in making it two for two in Idol's "stage personas" tackling this diva classic.

This was a better vocal than Normund's by far. However, it was not really the best vocally it's ever been done on the Idol stage. Definitely among the most entertaining though. Adam/Ada has a powerful instrument. Some parts of the performance vocally were near jaw dropping. A few others seemed clunky and overly cabaret. The judges will go crazy. Idol viewers will be talking about it online and at work tomorrow. Much of America will have rolled their eyes or turned off the tv. Controversy sells though and I am sure American Idol is happy about how this wound up.

Rankings (of everyone)

14. Michelle Sussett
13. Garrett Jacobs
12. Marcio Donaldson
11. Jonny Brenns
10. Maddie Poppe- safe
 9.  Caleb Lee Hutchinson- safe
 8.  Gabby Barrett- safe 
 7.   Jurnee
 6.   Cade Phoener- safe
 5.   Catie Turner- safe
 4.   Michael J. Woodard- safe
 3.   Ada Vox
 2.   Mara Justine
 1.   Dennis Lorenzo

I have to admit, this was a good episode. Not one performance (unlike last night) was really bad. Looking at my rankings, it's pretty shocking that I have Gabby as low as 8th. 

Now, what should happen seems pretty easy. The four Wild Card contenders who deserve to advance should and thus we will have the Most Deserving Top Ten possible. The bottom four that I have should be the ones to leave, both based on how America judged them last night and what they did this evening as well as someone else in the Top 10 who could basically fill their niche. Again, everyone was decent tonight, but the choices seem easy. My Top Ten would have five males and five females (including a gay male dressed as a woman and a lipstick lesbian) It would have six white kids, three African-Americans (I assume Jurnee's dad in the audience might be a stepfather, and two black males who followed the Fresh Prince's path of moving to LA from Philly), and the aforementioned Hispanic Drag Queen. Sorry, Asian-Americans, you were not around this season.

This seems too obvious as to whom the judges should pick and I am going to say they will do it, but that probably means I am wrong.

Who should and who I am predicting will be chosen: Dennis Lorenzo, Mara Justine, Ada Vox, Jurnee

Who was chosen: Dennis Lorenzo, Ada Vox, Junee, Michelle Sussett

So close! There is no way that Michelle is a better singer than Mara. Not even close. If Mara would be able to get her emotions together, she might be the best one vocally of the whole season.  I was really hoping for my Top 10 from tonight to be the official Top 10, but alas, in 14th place, Michelle advances, probably because of her Dreamer song, and the producers not wanting to symbolically "deport" her into obscurity.

Trump may even Tweet about this in the morning. He certainly picks dumber topics and causes to talk about.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

American Idol Top 14

Tonight, I am going to watch the recording of the taped broadcast of Idol tonight and live-blog it as I go.

For the first time, the show returns to the main studio and the "big stage." It looks somewhat different but Seacrest claims it is good to be back under "this roof" indicating that it may very well be the same building where Idol has taken part, in the vast majority of episodes, since Season 1.

I am struck by the announcement that the winner will be crowned in just four weeks. I suppose the show would not have been able to last into the summer, and thus, with the start two months later than most Idol seasons before, this will be a short sprint to the finish, although there seemed to be more than enough audition episodes. If Idol returns next season, I wonder if it will start again in January and last as long as it used to. Perhaps not.

In any event, tonight, there are going to be 14 performances. We are told that America will vote and the Top 6 will automatically advance to the Top 10 and I believe the judges will pick the other four. That means this is the final opportunity for four singers.

1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Midnight Train to Memphis"

Leading off this show is not a spot a contestant would want, but as the only real country singer left, Caleb will stand a good chance to advance. I believe he is the first singer ever to play the banjo on American Idol, but despite that throwback vibe, the hair and makeup people have done their thing on him and the performance felt more "modern country."  It's hard for me to judge. I could not really understand what he was singing about and while I do not know the song, felt like he was mumbling the word "Memphis" in the chorus. It was not the kind of older George Strait country one might have expected from him. The vocal was not that great to me, but country fans may have liked it.

2. Michelle Sussett- "Friends"

This will be a polarizing performance. Michelle may be the first singer in the history of American Idol trying to go the dance pop route. That is clearly a popular style of music, but as such, the type of songs and vocal performances will not be that great technically. There were parts of this performance that I thought were terrible and others where she looked and sounded, (for better or worse) like a legit pop artist. All things considered, I think she deserves some credit for trying to go this route.

3. Marcio Donaldson- "It's A Miracle"

What the heck was this? Marcio is "straight outta Compton" but sang a Barry Manilow song in a Col. Sanders tie. Fantasia once had to sing this on the Idol stage, but that was because Manilow was the mentor and the theme. I am not sure why Marcio went this route. He's been really good thus far at putting together strong performances on standards or classic R&B songs. This just was corny though. The most unfortunate part though for the contestant, who clearly has talent, was that you could barely hear him over whatever this band is that Idol is using this season and his timing with the band seemed off and thus the vocal was frantic. I bet he will still get high praise from the judges though.

4. Mara Justine- "This Is Me"

She sang an Oscar nominated (and perhaps winning?) song from a recent movie but the lyrics and vibe of the song totally could have it as a corny Idol winning single. It started off like another ballad, but then went uptempo and Mara added more  movement to the performance although she did not walk around or anything. She has a big voice and hit some big notes, but be it nerves, emotions, or whatever, he voice was a bit more quivery on some of the softer verses.

5. Garrett Jacobs- "Raging Fire"

We are not off to a very good start to these Finals on ABC. Garrett was lucky to even get to this point, as I think there are probably a lot better singers his age on YouTube or Instagram. This came across like a KidsBop version of a Phillip Phillips song. Garrett's voice is just not strong or gritty enough to pull this out, and I do not think Phillips's songs lend well to cover versions done by anyone. Garrett was smiling and was too happy on this song and it did not fit. I have to assume the best performances will be coming in the latter portion of the evening.

6. Ada Vox- "The Show Must Go On"

This is a great song for a drag"Queen" and Ada of course hit some big notes, but all in all, I was somewhat disappointed. It came across more of Adam (Sanders, not Lambert) singing this than Ada (maybe it was the sideburns.) It was lacking the drama and vocal range that it could have encapsulated. The then teenage Paris Bennett in Season Five did it better, but at least for Ada, it might have been nominally the best vocal so far tonight.

7. Catie Turner- "Take Me to Church"

In the intro piece, she lashes out at those who have said her personality is all an act? Did she read my blog two weeks ago? I have to say though, this performance was a lot better than I expected.  When she focuses on singing a "serious" song, her talent is apparent. I thought she sounded better in the verses than in the firsts chorus, but it was still fairly strong technically and only leads more credence to her being more of a "performance artist" off stage. (Along those lines, young Mara could also stand to turn it down several degrees.)

8. Cade Phoener- "Black Magic Woman"

Was he actually playing the guitar solo? He resembles a very young Brian May from Queen, It must be the hair. Vocally, this was solid again, and Cade seemed to stay right on course, even when playign electric guitar, but not exactly any sort of "wow" moments. I really want to see if he can sing something more dynamic or more vulnerable. Eventually, if he sticks with this, it will become too predictable.

9. Dennis Lorenzo- "In My Blood"

These songs are trending towards newer tonight (which continues to make Marcio's selection all the weirder.) I thought this was a much better choice for Dennis in showing off his vocals than the solo he did during the semifinal round. There might have been some off notes, but he hit most of them right and delivered the performance with conviction. There are a whole lot of these "better" outcomes from tonight that I am ranking close together. I still hope someone can really make a bigger impact though.

10. Maddie Poppe- "Homeward Bound"

This certainly is an old song. The potentially ominous title of the song aside, this started off really, really good for Maddie. I did not particularly think she sounded great when she went higher in a part of the chorus, but the other portions of the vocal were done very effectively and she validated, at least to some extent, her spot in the Finals, as from what I gather, others opinions online of her tended to be a lot better last week than the impression I got.

11.Jurnee- "Bang Bang"

This performance was similar in many ways to Michelle, in that Jurnee did a modern pop/club/whatever song with heavy on dance performance (and she threw in the rap portion as well.) In comparison between the two, Jurnee is definitely a better singer (as she showed last week on the ballads she did during the semifnals), although of course, there are going to be some technical problems vocally on high energy numbers like this. I have to judge based on the vocals alone, but I can certainly understand why Jurnee will get "star points" for this. This kind of performance on American Idol reminded me more of what might have been seen during the brief run of  "X-Factor USA."

12. Jonny Brenns- "This Is Gospel"

What a weird night. This was a bold song choice for Jonny. I have no idea what this Panic in the Disco song is, but he seemed to sort of take it to an uptempo Christian Contemporary worship style song, but to me, it sounded, really, really pitchy. I did not know that anyone would outdo Garrett in that category tonight, so unfortunately, I am going to have to rank this one really low. Jonny should have done a white guy with a guitar ballad and he maybe would have stood a great shot at getting enough votes to advance. This song choice took some chutzpah for someone as inexperienced on stage as him, but really missed the mark.

13. Michael J. Woodard- "Titanium"

It took a few bars for Michael to get really into the song. The first portion, he was smiling a bit and interestingly enough could have passed vocally for a female, but then once he revved it up, this was a pretty stellar vocal performance for him. There is no doubt that he is in his own lane in this competition and that there really is not anybody else out there in the music world quite like him. If the public buys into it, he could go extremely far in this competition, although I would not also be shocked if he is a surprise elimination earlier than many expect.

14. Gabby Barrett- "The Climb"

Clearly, American Idol is seeing Gabby as this season's "Chosen One" and they are going to try to push her to a win, but Cade's strength with the older female demographic might be hard to slow down at the moment.

I am just really wondering how Gabby, a girl from Pittsburgh, whom we saw tonight as having a background in a black church choir, has such a country accent when she talks. Tonight, she sang this well-known Miley Cyrus anthem with about 50% more twang than the original version. In some ways, this was a lay-up vocally for Gabby, but you really cannot fault her for doing what she did well. It did sound like she was trying to copy the Miley Cyrus version note for note, but as someone who is likely a naturally better singer than the original artist. If only Gabby were actually from the South, she would be even more of a front-runner.

Rankings:

14. Jonny Brenns
13. Garrett Jacobs
12. Marcio Donaldson
11. Caleb Lee Hutchinson

10. Michelle Sussett
 9.  Mara Justine
 8.  Jurnee
 7.  Catie Turner

 6.  Ada Vox
 5.  Maddie Poppe
 4.  Cade Phoener
 3.  Dennis Lorenzo
 2.  Michael J. Woodard
 1.  Gabby Barrett

This will be the first time this season we will get any indication as to whom the voting audience likes, and thus surprises may be in store. Again, only the top six are automatically getting through. If there are live sing offs tomorrow night for the Wildcard spots, I will judge and rank them. All that I can be certain of is that Gabby and Cade will advance to the Top 10.

With one exception, this was a pretty weak showing for the white dudes in the competition. If the judges have a say though, they will put at least one more of them through.

Who are the other four that will join Gabby and Cade? I am going to predict Michael J., Maddie, Jurnee, and then it gets really tough. A case can be made for the public putting through Ada, or Caleb, or Dennis, or Catie, but I will say that Mara will just barely make it, and then others will hope for another avenue to the Top 10.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

American Idol Top 24 Group B Part 2

Tonight, I am going to watch a recording of the Monday evening broadcast and liveblog it as I go.


1. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Meant To Be"

I am struck by how similar his name is to former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. That would have been an interesting All Star Duet. Instead, Caleb was paired with Bebe Rexha of all people and they did what I assume was a Florida Georgia Line song.

This may not have been quite his kind of country music, and he had to do this without his guitar. I thought he started off a bit shaky, but improved a bit on the chorus when he sang along with Bebe. He fits the old school country niche well, but it cannot be said that he has shown any evidence of a big voice or wide range.

2. Ada Vox- "Defying Gravity"

Rachel Berry dueting on a Broadway showtune with a drag queen is like the most "Glee" thing ever . I am sure it happened on that former Fox show. How come Fox though never seemed to have the cast from Glee actually sing on results night?

Anyway, Lea Michelle and Ada tried to out-diva each other on this song and it was impressive, as far as those things go. Ada's voice is powerful. Why was she dressed as Ada instead of Adam during the rehearsal with Lea though? Was that necessary as to not confuse the audience? It was more noticeable because Ada seemed to be slacking when it came to the makeup and hair in that clip.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Bubbly"

The  most interesting part of this boring collaboration is that Colbie Callait finally made it to the Idol stage. Part of her bio was that she had auditioned years ago and did not even make it to Hollywood, but went on to become a big star, though I do not get the appeal of this song at all.

You can just tell that Maddie's nerves had her defeated. She has a nice tone to her voice, but was so tentative on this, it just left no impact. In order to try to salvage the moment, it felt like Colbie was holding back as well. I suppose the judges will treat it like it was great though.

4. Ron Bultongez- "Someone To You"

Who the hell is Banners? If it's any consolation to Ron, I do not think Banners sounded very good on his own song either. It seemed pretty clear that Ron would have preferred not to sing this song and would have rather played his guitar "Noelle." While I think he has an interesting voice, the vocals were really lacking on this between his enunciation issues, the fact that he probably forgot a lot of the words, and the way he was just jumping around on stage trying to infuse energy into the performance because he did not know what else to do. Much like Maddie, I think he will be better off setting his sights on smaller venues in the future.

5. Amelia Hammer Harris- "Me, Myself & I"

And Bebe Rexha on a duet... Bebe says she is another one who never made it past the American Idol auditions. I have to say, I thought Amelia handled this very well. The song seemed to fit her voice and I enjoyed her portion more than the celebrity whom I believe is the artist of this song. AHH's talent is apparent, although as I mentioned last night, she might be a bit too old and too tall to be a fan favorite in this. Also, since she wants to pay homage to the semi-famous father who was briefly in her lift, she should just go by Amelia Hammer. Was M.C. Hammer available to duet?

6. Shannon O'Hara- "Burning House"

Cam is another musician I have never heard of, but she sounded like a pretty good country singer and looks like Beth S. from the second season of "The Real World" 25 years ago, but anyways, this was about Shannon.

In some ways, this kind of duet might have cost Shannon some moments that she could have shined on, and she seemed tentative at first (like some others tonight), but as it went on, she gained in power and had some really strong vocal moments.

7. Alyssa Raghu- "Yellow"

So, apparently Banners' father was the producer of this Coldplay song. I have never liked this song and I really did not like this duet. Their voices did not blend together very well, even though she has so much talent at just 15 years old. Her solo last night was a lot better. There just was not much she could do to get into it, after sounding really good on the first line. The song just held her back and the discomfort of the situation got more apparent the longer the duet went. Even the judges seemed to have some concerned looks on their faces.

8. Marcio Donaldson- "What's Going On"

Toni Braxton bailed on him for this duet. She got sick or something and this lost opportunity for her career might be enormous. Marco was very scared about what would happen, because it's not like there are other singers just hanging around Hollywood looking to get on tv. Oh look, Allen Stone is back from "last week." It is like I can envision that he had just been hanging out in a tent in the lobby of the theater the whole time.

As for Marcio, he once again showed his old school bona fides, but unlike the technical perfection of last night, he might have riffed into a few misplays here. It was still pretty good though and the shot notice collaboration with Allen Stone worked well.

9. Jurnee- "Run To You"

I do not know this song, but it is definitely not the same one as the Whitney Houston number that Mara did for her solo.

This was extremely good and Jurnee, who showed potential on her solo, stepped it up for this.  She really did  manage to stand toe to toe with Lea Michelle, who was certainly not holding back herself. It would be hard for me to find anything technically wrong with how Jurnee sang it.

10. Garrett Jacobs- "Lucky"

I thought he had a rough time with his solo last night and the duet tonight was maybe only moderately better. These particular Colbie Callait songs have choruses that just do not allow a singer to show off much. Garrett sounded ok at parts in his solo but then seemed to struggle to blend his voice with Colbie. I would have no idea what kind of artist he is trying to be. I would have assumed he was going to be more country pop.

11. Mara Justine- "Fight Song"

This prime time tv performance, which was filmed a few weeks ago apparently, might take some pressure off Rachel Platten, who has been in the news today for totally bombing an attempt at singing the "Star Spangled Banner" yesterday at a womens' soccer match.

Hopefully, for Mara, this song will bring better luck than it did for the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. Once again, she proved she is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the competition. It might not have been a perfect vocal (and a lot of people completely hate this song) but she delivered a very connected rendition with Rachel literally urging her on.

12. Effie Passero- "Diane"

Her original duet partner, Jessie J. might have caught whatever illness also sidelined Toni Braxton, so instead, Effie sang with Cam. I do not think this is the song she would have done with Jessie J.

While this particular country song, which I do not know, sounded a bit better suited for Cam, Effie still sang it really well. She clearly can sing all types of music and is very talented. People are just going to wish she dressed better.

Rankings:

12. Ron Bultongez
11. Garrett Jacobs
10. Maddie Poppe
 9. Alyssa Raghu
 8. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
 7. Marcio Donaldson
 6. Ada Vox
 5. Shannon O'Hara
 4. Amelia Hammer Harris
 3. Effie Passero
 2. Mara Justine
 1. Jurney

Cumulative with tie-breakers:

12. Garrett Jacobs
11. Maddie Poppe
10.  Ron Bultongez
 9.  Caleb Lee Hutchinson
 8.  Alyssa Raghu

 7.  Amelia Hammer Harris
 6.  Ada Vox
 5.  Marcio Donaldson
 4.  Jurnee
 3.  Shannon O'Hara
 2.  Effie Passero
 1.  Mara Justine

Considering who went through last week in regards to 4 guys, and 3 girls, my rankings would have things at 8-6 in favor of the girls, (even counting Ada as a dude), and I think they might want more of a 7-7 split and also want one more white guy. I think they will advance Caleb instead of Amelia.

Who should be eliminated: Garrett Jacobs, Maddie Poppe, Ron Bultongez, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Alyssa Raghu

Who I predict the "judges" will eliminate: Garrett Jacobs, Maddie Poppe, Ron Bultongez, Alyssa Raghu, Amelia Hammer Harris

and after the commercial break-

Who was eliminated:  Ron Bultongez, Alyssa Raghu, Amelia Hammer Harris, Shannon O'Hara, Effie Passero

Once again, I am let down by these judges or producers or whomever. It's like they are seeking out controversy. I predicted Caleb would make it over Amelia, but have no reasonable explanation for Garrett and Maddie, whom I thought were the two weakest in this group, making it over Shannon and Effie, whom I had ranked #3, and #2. I guess they just did not have the "image."

So, the Finals start next week. Some are very deserving, such as Mara, Cade, and Gabby, while others are really lucky to still be alive, such as Garrett, Maddie, and Catie. I believe America might have a way to remedy this though.

Finally, I think Trevor, Shannon, and Effie should join some sort of trio.



Sunday, April 15, 2018

American Idol Top 24 Group B Part 1

There is a lot on tv Sunday nights in the Spring. You can add American Idol to the list. Tonight, I was out watching the show live and am not going to attempt to recreate my thoughts now as I complete this blog. I am forgoing watching the show that followed Idol on ABC, but will have to try to catch the recording of the highly publicized James Comey interview later. I wonder if Hillary is watching..

Before I begin though, let me quickly offer my thoughts and prayers to the family of former First Lady Barbara Bush, during what has to be a difficult time.

After a bit of a slow start tonight, I have to say, the American Idol performances were really very good. The group was more solid than the 12 that went last week, especially the females. I note that last week, seven males and five females performed and this week, it was seven females and five males (and yes, that counts Ada Vox, since she probably uses the boy's bathroom.) I wonder why they did it that way. I think Idol definitely would like a female winner this season, but that's not anything new.

1. Amelia Hammer Harris- "Believer"

She is one of the older females in this competition and apparently one of the more seasoned performers. There was really nothing she did wrong with her take on an Imagine Dragons modern rock song tonight (of course this was filmed weeks ago and if I really wanted to spoil myself for tomorrow, I could look up who made the Top 14, but will not do so), but this was a bad sign for her that she was placed first, with so many teenage female singers yet to come. While technically, it will be the judges that decide her fate, after the All-Star Duets tomorrow, her competent performance felt like a distant memory by the end of the evening.

2. Garrett Jacobs- "Treat You Better"

During the "Final Judgment" I was surprised they picked Garrett over his fellow High School Louisianan White Guy With a Guitar, Lane. This was not a good performance for Garrett. It was probably the shakiest of all the Top 24. If he fails to make it through, which would be the obvious response, it will be a lost opportunity for him, as he probably would have had a lot of young female voters. I thought he was supposed to be a country singer, but instead he took on a Shawn Mendes pop tune and did not sound like it was up his alley.

3. Maddie Poppe- "Brand New Key"

She was presented as lacking in confidence in her pre performance tape and then she had a very odd song choice. This was a number one hit back in 1972 I believe, but few people know it, beyond from it's appearance in "Boogie Nights" twenty years ago. Mad-Pop seems like a talented Indie singer songwriter type, but this song did not really play to her talent. In order to do the chorus right, the female singer actually has to try to consciously sound annoying.

4. Ada Vox- "Feeling Good"

This was definitely one for the Monday Morning proverbial water cooler, but far less so than in Idol's earlier years. Was this the first legit drag queen Idol performance? Probably, because a few years back, Jda had a heavier beard than Seacrest did tonight.

Also, this song has been done to death on Idol in years past, and often has led to some eliminations. This would have more resemblance to the Adam Lambert version by this other Adam. I knew he/she would sing it very well and has some major pipes (no double entendre here) and Ada delivered, although I think there were a couple of bum notes. I have never ranked nor even watched Ru Paul's Drag Race, but if I did, I would imagine that Ada's outfit and lipstick would have been panned as "dreadful."

5. Caleb Lee Hutchinson- "Die A Happy Man"

The fact that he is a teenage country crooner, who apparently has been doing this for years, pegged him to me as an early frontrunner from his auditions. After all, that was all it took for Scotty McCreery to ride all the way to the title.

Tonight, Caleb was sort of joking around a bit with Bobby Bones (whomever the hell he actually is), about how Scotty had stolen his shtick from himself back in the day, and then Scotty appeared to meet Caleb (no relation I assume to former U.S, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison). From what I gather, this clip might have already gotten out there and Caleb had to apologize to Scotty's fans for seeming to disrespect him.

Ah, Idol fan wars. Anyway, Caleb's performance of this country song was competent but not exactly memorable, so much like Scotty's past numbers. The show is almost certain to put him through to the Top 14, but compared to what was still to come, this failed to leave much of an impact.

6. Effie Passero- "Barracuda"

A couple weeks back, they showed a small portion of her singing "Alone" during Hollywood Week and she sounded exactly like Ann Wilson. It was really, really good, so I guess it was not too much of a surprise she took on another Heart classic. This was a very strong performance, but it is harder to impress as much on a non-power ballad and it just felt like it was missing a bit of depth.

I will be disappointed though if she does not advance, as I really want to hear what else she can do. Her look is definitely unique for this season and will probably be somewhat polarizing to some in Middle America, but the longer she is on the show, people will get used to her tattoos, mohawk, and fashion sense.

7. Alyssa Raghu- "Stay"

This was a lot better than I expected from this teenage singer, who comes across as quite confident in herself despite her youth. There have been lots of covers done of this song, but she sort of brought her own thing to it. I almost wonder though if her vocal tone would have been even better on something else, and she has some really strong bottom notes, almost like Cher.

8. Marcio Donaldson- "Inseperable"

I do not totally understand the backstory of why Marcio was given custody of his drug addicted (I think that was what it was) sister's baby, and why the child did not go to the grandmother or something, but Idol has made much about Marcio's identity as a single father (though another dude has been around him at times as well) and his desire to give this child a better life.

This take on a very old-fashioned song was very good. It does not say anything about what kind of "current" artist he would be, but older Idol viewers, which I guess I am a part of now, had to appreciate the near flawless technical performance he rendered. He was very emotional at the end. At first I thought he might be putting it on, but then I thought it was real. The African-American male singers on this show this season are all atypical in some ways and thus might be more attractive to an overwhelmingly white voting demographic.

9. Mara Justine- "Run To You"

We saw in Hollywood that she had a huge voice, and might be a "dark horse" contestant, as she had not gotten a lot of airtime. It is brave to take on a Whitney Houston song, but I do not think this is one that has typically been done on reality shows before. It is hard to believe she is only 16 or whatever she is as her vocals were pretty stellar. In that way, she reminded me of Jessica Sanchez.  She also sounded a bit like a young, but more "current" Celine Dion, if that makes any sense. I have a feeling she will impress on upbeat songs as well and will return to a lot of hairography. I think a whole lot of people took notice tonight at a really great first live performance on tv.

10. Jurnee- "Flashlight"

She has definitely been given a lot of airtime. We all know that she is 18 and is married to a woman in the military. (Why do lesbians feel the need to get married so young? It's not like the Supreme Court is going to be repealing that thing anytime soon.)

Jurnee, of the single name, is most certainly not lacking in confidence. She definitely is a good singer, but this performance was just missing some of the passion or technical perfection that we had heard from some others already In some semi-final seasons, she might have been right near the top. I think it is likely they put her through though, as she is the only remaining black female.

11. Shannon O'Hara- "All I Ask"

She looks a lot less Irish than Mara Justine, but the name definitely might get her some votes, if she were running for Judge in Cook County.

 Another bold move for a teenage singer to take on Adele, but Shannon looks and sounds older than her years, and while not quite flawless, this vocal performance was still extremely good. She did not play the piano or guitar for it, so she is probably capable of a lot of "moments" if she gets to stick around.

12. Ron Bultongez- "Dancing On My Own"

The show tonight played down Ron's past as an immigrant from the Congo, who had endured a tough childhood, and instead focused on how he does not like to smile. Ron compared himself to Bill Belichek and Kanye West. That is definitely not going to get him any votes. Clearly though, he just does not want anyone to see the braces on his teeth.

Considering a lot of the other performances on tonight's show, this was a surprising pick for the "pimp slot." Ron can clearly sing, but this did not seem like it would have been his best performance. He came across as somewhat tentative and his enunciation was not really good.

Rankings:

12. Garrett Jacobs
11. Maddie Poppe
10. Amelia Hammer Harris
 9.  Ron Bultongez
 8. Caleb Lee Hutchinson
 7. Jurnee
 6. Alyssa Raghu
 5. Ada Vox
 4. Effie Passero
 3. Shannon O'Hara
 2. Marcio Donaldson
 1. Mara Justine


An interesting night. Going into it, I expected Ada to be the best singer in the group, but some managed to snatch her wig after all. Tomorrow night, more duets, and probably more surprises.